Women Seen as Key to Africa's Transformation

Secular Institute President Calls on Laypeople

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Laypeople, especially women, have a special vocation to transform African society from within, said the president-general of the Secular Institute of Missionaries of the Kingdom of Christ.



This was affirmed by Barbara Pandolfi, one of four auditors who gave interventions Monday afternoon at the Twelfth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

In general, secular institutes are a "hidden presence," Pandolfi affirmed, according to an English summary of the intervention released by the Vatican.

The members of these institutes accept "the precariousness of daily life, side by side with others, without protection and privileges," she said.

Members of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ consecrate themselves totally to God, following a Franciscan spirituality, but do not live in community or share a common apostolate. They work in some 30 countries worldwide, fulfilling a mission of witness and service within the world.

Pandolfi affirmed that the particular vocation within a secular institute points to a need for "the promotion of a mature laity that may contribute to the edification of a civil society based on the human values of Christianity."

In this way, she added, these laypeople are present in social life, initiating "micro-processes of reconciliation" and bringing the light of the Gospel wherever they are.

They bring "a positive vision that starts with the certainty that, everywhere, signs and seeds of God's presence may be found, that demand acknowledgment, promotion and accompaniment, in the true style of dialogue and witness," Pandolfi stated.

A woman's worth

She made particular mention of institutes of women, which make up the greatest portion of secular institutes in Africa.

These, she said, "have an urgent need of favoring and promoting woman's worth, not just because she is wife and mother, but in her capability for responsibility and autonomy in different circles of social life."

As well, Pandolfi underlined the "urgency" for women to share their gifts within the Church.

She suggested: "If the first fracture in mankind, caused by sin, was that between man and woman, one of the signs of peace and of reconciliation, perhaps, could be given by the promotion of an authentic joint responsibility and of an effective acknowledgment of equal dignity between men and women, beyond all domination and discrimination."

Pandolfi concluded that "perhaps the moment has arrived that woman […] may truly stand, in all areas of social and ecclesial life, facing man, in dialogue with him."

"In this sense," she said, "the Gospel may become an authentic force for change."

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-27179?l=english